14 cities trying to be smart


I’m continuing my own smart learnings, and in pursuit to satisfy my own curiosity I had a look into some smart initiatives around the world


Addis Ababa

The Ethiopian capital is sorting the basics to start with. The city, like many in Africa, is growing rapidly. The population increases by a third every ten years. And before they go all crazy with IoT, self-driving cars and talking buildings they’re sorting out transportation and lighting with projects likeLight Rail Transit and Street lightning pilot with Philips.




A city that has constantly been in the forefront of smart initiatives.With projects like, “City-zen, a game with the goal to engage youths in these cities to save energy by raising awareness and changing behaviour through the familiar medium of gaming”.

Another is Vehicle2Grid where residents will be able to use the battery in their electric car to store their locally produced energy, which could be used to drive the car or run household appliances.



The city called the startup capital of India is helping their residents stay hydrated through Nextdrop. It sends text message alerts to residents when clean water is available and they can plan accordingly to collect and store water as needed.




Leading smart city hub Barcelona have originated several initiatives, ranging from improving education and transportation to ‘open data’ projects like;App&Town: an application that acts as a guide from your point of departure to your destination using Barcelona’s metropolitan transport services.

And SOS info: an application that shows information about the user (allergies, illnesses, emergency contact details, etc.) and the location of the nearest emergency services.

Read more about current and past projects Barcelona Smart city.




So how well is the city scoring in terms of being smart, people/transport/education/friendly you might ask? Well have a look for yourself at Boston CityScore. CityScore, launched last October, reflects a growing trend among city governments in America. Led by Boston, Chicago and New York, they have started to use the ever-increasing amounts of data they collect to improve planning, offer better services and engage citizens. To speed up the process, the White House recently launched a new “smart-city” initiative. (Economist)



Bremen hosted last week the 3rd European Conference on Sustainable Urban Mobility Plans, and the city is not new to this smarter type of work. Under the name of bIoTope Bremen wants to connect the dots.

Its objective is to build up an open Internet-of-Things (IoT) ecosystem that will enable the universal integration of intelligent objects.Everything from traffic regulation and monitoring the weather to optimising waste disposal and searching for places to park: various IT systems have been making our lives easier for quite a long time. In the city of tomorrow, these systems will have to work together (Uni Bremen).




Copenhagen has the ambition of becoming the first carbon neutral capital by 2025. The goal is supported by the CPH 2025 Climate Plan, which the City Council adopted in 2009. A midterm goal was to reduce carbon emissions by 20% by 2015, which is a goal Copenhagen met already in 2011. Since 1995, Copenhagen has reduced carbon emissions by 50 percent (State of Green).

And in their city lab (Copenhagen solutions lab), an incubator for smart projects they’re bringing in furniture experts to schools and tech producers to together shape it’s smarter future.



‘PowerMatching City’ is a smart grid pilot project and living laboratory that is evolving into a Smart Green City project in Groningen.

“The first phase of the project commenced in 2007 and created an integrated smart grid solution, supporting 25 houses in the City of Groningen, in the Netherlands, which were equipped with small renewable energy generators, smart appliances, electric vehicles and smart meters”.

The second phase includes 40 households and is focused on the development and demonstration of business models for new services, including demand response pricing mechanisms” (DNV-GL).



Inside Forum Virium Helsinki the city’s own innovation unit they’re currently keep themselves very busy with a bunch of projects around ‘open data’, energy-saving & sources, smarter streets to empowered citizens. All within their focus areas; Smart City, New Forms of Media, Growth Company Services andInnovation Communities (Forum Virium).




The third Scandinavian city on my list is the Swedish city of Malmö, who has tune their expertise within the green energy sector, where they’re offering it’s involved citizens to check in real-time their energy consumptions and savings (EuroNews)



The Colombian city has placed aspects such as solving common citizens’ problems, increasing productivity and achieving inclusive economic growth are placed at the centre of Smart City Medellín program. And in the centre of it all is a crowdsourced platform called Mi Medellin (Urenio).



Milton Keynes

One of UK’s first driverless test cities is doing rather well for itself in terms of being smart.

Milton Keynes’ project, MK:Smart, was a finalist in the same category and the city was also recognised for its advances in the field of smart cities.“MK:Smart is a large collaborative initiative, partly funded by HEFCE (the Higher Education Funding Council for England) and led by The Open University, which will develop innovative solutions to support economic growth in Milton Keynes” (MK;Smart).




“With a population density of approximately 45,000 people per square mile, the city of Seoul has sought out smart city technologies to simplify its cramped urban lifestyles. One such smart city adaptation appeared in its outfitting of the city’s 25,000 taxis with touch payments that leveraged GPS technologies. Not only did this simplify customer payments for rides, its byproduct is real-time traffic data that can be used for other smart city adaptations” (Information Week).



The Australian city is saving money, water and energy through its smart initiatives. Back in 2011 they launched the Smart Green Apartments (SGA) Programme to help apartment owners and managers reduce their energy and water use, minimise waste and cut GHG emissions. And through technology, toolkits and awareness these green apartments has been a resounding success for the city (C40).



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